By Azimazi Momoh Jimoh and Msugh Ityokura
Abuja — With 108 days to the February 16, 2019 presidential and assembly elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday said it was yet to get the N189.2 billion approved for the exercise.
The agency, however, stated that prior to the budget passage by the legislature, it had already begun the procurement of materials, including ballot boxes, papers among other sensitive items.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, raised the alarm while receiving a delegation led by the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas, in Abuja. The team was at the commission’s headquarters to ascertain the level of preparedness for the forthcoming polls.
Represented by a National Commissioner, Dr. Muhammed Lecky, he told the delegation that INEC had introduced a number of macro-level documents to guide its activities.The chief electoral umpire said the strategic plans run from 2017 to 2021.His words: “Within the plan of action, we also have the Election Project Plan (EPP) which is the actual countdown towards the election in 2019.
“We are setting up an Election Monitoring Support Centre (EMSC) with partners and some UN agencies. The EMSC will be used as the centre for monitoring of all the activities and our programme of action, reporting on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.”
The INEC chair also noted that the agency had been engaging security agencies for a fair and peaceful exercise next year.He continued: “There are few challenges in which we think capacity building will be required particularly for the security agencies. We are addressing some of their challenges to ensure effective security for the elections.
“IDPs’ voting is also an issue of concern and we are developing a programme on entrenching their voting rights. I think in the next couple of weeks, we are going to finalise the modalities to ensure the effective participation of the IDPs in the 2019 elections.” Chambas had informed INEC that the concerns it raised in earlier correspondences to the world body were being followed up.